Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Will Smith in a great movie. You could argue we’ve never seen the actor in a great movie, but he did have the opportunity to be a part of one a few years ago. Smith passed on starring in Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained. He missed out on a strong role, a role he didn’t feel was substantial enough. Smith, who’s on the Oscar hunt for Concussion, now claims he turned the part down for a different reason.

Learn why we didn’t see Will Smith in Django Unchained after the jump.

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Concussion review

The last film we saw with director Peter Landesman‘s name on it was Kill the Messenger, which he scripted. That drama shares a lot in common with Landesman’s sophomore directorial effort, Concussion. Both follow real-life who heroes are simply trying to speak the truth, and yet are treated as villains. Kill the Messenger is the more successful of the two stories, though. Although Concussion is a well-meaning and an undeniably important film, it’s also a by-the-numbers, dramatically frustrating underdog story.

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Concussion - Will Smith

Will Smith hasn’t been an Oscar contender for a few years now. The actor almost exclusively appears in big-budget movies these days, but every now and then, he’ll star in a drama. Like his upcoming picture Concussion, which premieres in the next few days at the American Film Institute. Before Peter Landesman‘s film makes its debut, a new trailer for the drama has been released.

Watch the trailer after the jump.

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Concussion NFL controversy

Last week brought the first trailer for the professional football set drama Concussion starring Will Smith. The movie doesn’t arrive until Christmas Day when we’re well into the next season of football, but there’s already controversy surrounding the film due to some cuts that Sony Pictures reportedly made to the film in order to avoid clashing with the NFL.

For those who don’t know, Concussion follows Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic neuropathologist who discovers the first case of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease) in a pro football player. The doctor tries to alert the public to his findings, but the NFL denies his conclusions and has stopped his efforts to get the organization to address these problems at every turn.

The controversy that has surfaced comes from e-mails between Sony Pictures Entertainment, director Peter Landesman and Will Smith’s representatives where they discuss how to make the movie without antagonizing the NFL or “kicking the hornet’s nest” as one e-mail puts it. Find out more about the Concussion movie NFL controversy below! Read More »

Concussion trailer

Even if you’re not particularly a sports fan, you’ve likely heard about the ongoing controversy over head injuries in the NFL. This winter, a new movie dramatizes that fight. Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic neuropathologist who discovers the first case of CTE in a pro football player. He tries to alert the public to his findings, but the NFL denies his conclusions and stymies his efforts at every turn. Watch the Concussion trailer after the jump.

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Sony CinemaCon 2015 Video Blog Reaction

Sony CinemaCon

I’m in Las Vegas for the CinemaCon convention (formerly ShoWest), which is the largest gathering of movie theatre exhibitors each year. The convention is packed with talks about subjects such as how to maximize profits, and features a show floor filled with the newest and best concessions equipment. More notably, most of the major movie studios hold presentations of upcoming film line-ups for the next year and beyond. Companies even show some of their films early to get some excitement from those booking the screens.

Wednesday afternoon we saw a presentation from Sony Pictures showcasing some of their big upcoming films including Perfect Guy, Concussion, 5th Wave, X-Mas, Spectre, Goosebumps, Pixels, Aloha, Ricky and The Flash, The Walk and Money Monster and more. After the presentation I recorded a spoiler free Sony CinemaCon reaction video reaction with Steve from Collider, which you can watch that now embedded after the jump.

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will smith football movie

Now that Mission: Impossible 5 has moved into the Summer of 2015, Sony Pictures saw an opening. And in that opening, they placed a brand new Will Smith football movie.

Previous just referred to as the “NFL concussion movie,” Sony has officially titled the film Concussion. It stars Smith as the doctor who discovered the traumatic head injuries a life playing professional football causes, and proceeded to blow the whistle on the operation. Concussion is written and directed by Peter Landesman based on a GQ article is and produced by Ridley Scott among others. Co-stars include Alec Baldwin, Luke Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Arliss Howard, Paul Reiser, David Morse and Albert Brooks.

Concussion will open wide against the Paramount film Monster Trucks, David O. Russell’s Joy with Jennifer Lawrence and Alvin and the Chipmunks 4. [Coming Soon]

Any film fan should make it a point to attend the Sundance Film Festival at least once. Words can hardly describe the beauty of Park City, the camaraderie of the attendees, the smooth running machine that plays dozens of movies a day on screens all over town. And those movies. Oh, those movies. Some of the best films of the past 25 years have debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The list has been well-documented and 2013 is likely to add at least a few to that incredible legacy.

At this year’s festival, I saw 34 movies. Not a staggering, superhuman number – remember I have to eat, sleep and write about these things – but a number to be proud of none the less. I saw comedies, dramas, foreign films, Hollywood films, sports films, happy films, sad films, black and white films, sex films, kids films. You name it; one of the movies I saw fits nearly any description you can muster.

I’ve picked my ten favorite films of the festival, with an asterisk. Though I saw 34 films, I missed probably 100 others, so this isn’t by any means definitive. But out of the movies that I thought looked interesting, or were buzzed about on the streets of Park City, these were the ten that I most enjoyed. Read More »

Yesterday at Sundance Jim Rash and Nat Faxon premiered their film The Way Way Back. The Descendants writers penned the film several years ago, and only made it last year. The coming of age comedy is set in a Massachusetts seaside town , and features quite a cast: Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph, and Rob Corddry make up the key ensemble, and relative newcomer Liam James plays the young man Duncan, who is trying to deal with his mom’s douchy new boyfriend (Carell) as they spend summer at his family beach house.

After the screening many people commented that the film seemed like an obvious buy for Fox Searchlight. It has that easy and appealing blend of dialogue-based humor and slight pathos that tends to make a hit. Germain vocalized a similar notion in his review.

And now Searchlight is said to be close to a $10m deal to pick up the movie. If the deal goes through, Searchlight will have beat out Lionsgate, FilmDistrict, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros. in a sale that Deadline calls “one of the most spirited auctions in recent Sundance memory.” It would also be one of the priciest deals ever for the fest.

After the break, Austenland and Concussion get distribution deals, and several docs get distribution, too. Read More »